‘Heat apocalypse’ warning in France as wildfires spread

·2-min read
Firefighters try to control a forest fire in Louchats, south-western France (AFP via Getty Images)
Firefighters try to control a forest fire in Louchats, south-western France (AFP via Getty Images)

Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes in south-western France on Monday as emergency services battled a ferocious wildfire.

Some 5,000 residents of the town of Les Miquelots, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, were evacuated as firefighters attempted to control the blaze near the Dune de Pilat, Europe's highest sand dune.

A further 3,000 people were evacuated from the town of Pyla-sur-Mer, local authorities said.

It brought the total number of people who have been forced out of their homes in the Gironde region to nearly 28,000 since July 12.

French forecasters have warned temperatures could hit a new record as swirling hot winds complicated firefighting efforts in the country's southwest.

Pyla Dune in the background, in the Arcachon basin southwest France (AFP via Getty Images)
Pyla Dune in the background, in the Arcachon basin southwest France (AFP via Getty Images)

“The smoke is toxic,” firefighter spokesman Arnaud Mendousse told AFP. “Protecting the population is a matter of public health.”

Meteorologist Francois Gourand told Le Monde newspaper that some south-western areas would see a "heat apocalypse".

France’s interior ministry announced it would send an extra three firefighting planes, 200 firefighters and more trucks to the region to battle the blaze.

Fifteen départements have been placed on the highest state of alert for extreme temperatures.

A photo shows burned trees after a forest fire near the city of Origne, south-western France (AFP via Getty Images)
A photo shows burned trees after a forest fire near the city of Origne, south-western France (AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Spain recorded its second fatality in two days as the country battled its own wildfires.

The body of a 69-year-old sheep farmer was found Monday in the same hilly area where a 62-year-old firefighter died a day earlier when he was trapped by flames in the northwestern Zamora province.

More than 30 forest fires have forced the evacuation of thousands of people and blackened 220 square kilometres of land.

“Climate change kills,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on Monday during a visit to the Extremadura region, where firefighters tackled three major fires.

“It kills people, it kills our ecosystems and biodiversity.”

Europe Wildfires: Summer 2022 Heatwave

In Portugal, much cooler weather Monday helped fire crews make progress against blazes.

More than 600 firefighters attended four major fires in northern Portugal.

Elsewhere, train services were cut and schools closed across the UK as temperatures soared into the 30s during the heatwave.

Temperatures had risen to 37.5C in Kew Gardens, west London, by 3pm, making it the hottest day of the year, and the mercury topped 37C in a number of other places.

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